Allround dominance hands Hampshire second big win of the season

Hampshire 319 (Holland 64, Northeast 63, Abbot 58) and 299 for 4 declared (Holland 146*, Northeast 118) beat Middlesex 79 (Abbas 6-11) and 281 (White 73*, Gubbins 67, Holland 3-19, Abbas 3-28) by 249 runs

Having wrapped up the spoils from this game a minute or two before the scheduled lunch break on day four, Hampshire’s players were able to belt out their victory song in the dressing room and sit back to drink in the moment – perhaps even enjoy a beer in the sunshine, too, given it is practically government-mandated now.

There were no home fans around to enjoy the scene, but the Ageas Bowl nevertheless basked in a summery sense of optimism as James Vince walked down the steps to reflect on a second emphatic victory in a row. Not since 2004 have Hampshire won their opening two games of a Championship season. That year, Shane Warne’s side saw off Durham and Leicestershire in a couple of low-scorers, on their way to promotion from Division Two. The following summer, they finished as runners-up to Nottinghamshire by two-and-a-half points – as close as Hampshire have come in recent times to hoisting the Championship pennant last raised in these parts back in 1973.

Vince, of course, will not be looking that far ahead. Squinting impassively in bright April sunshine, he was happy to praise his players for two dominant displays against Leicestershire and Middlesex, before concluding: “Delighted with the start, but I’ll be boring and say on to the next game.”

That is perfectly reasonable, with the first goal for all of the sides competing in this year’s Championship being to secure a top-two finish in their conference and qualification for Division One. Already Hampshire and Gloucestershire have pulled out in front, and the two will meet here next week for a contest that will give further indication of each team’s relative strength.

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